Shit to Compost
About a thousand years ago (I frighten myself these days with my attempts to locate myself in time), I was again a new member of yet another 12 Step group.
This one focused on that dread substance of substances, people.
Having attempted to wrestle my active addiction to the ground, then finally realizing that relinquishing the struggle was the way of releasing the substances, I was clear enough for that other dread addiction to emerge.
In all its dysfunction and glory, I was beginning to see myself in relationship.
And it wasn’t pretty.
I was a busy-bee-people-pleaser.
Trying to get You to like Me was my understanding of relationship.
It was clearly the time to learn another way of being.
I remember sitting in a meeting in Lee, Mass., looking around yet another church basement wondering, as only a Jew can:,
Why has this lifetime offered me a countless number of church basements?
Appalled at yet “another” set of behaviors that needed attention and realignment, long before I recognized that addiction was one disease with many faces, I sat, looking at a new group of total strangers that would soon sound more familiar to me than my own voice.
I remember her well.
Was her name Mary?
Well, truly, I’m not sure of her name.
But of her essence, I am positive.
I can conjure her up in a moment.
Let’s call her Mary.
I can see her before me, sitting on her usual spot on the most memorable and (in strange internal detail for me) super-thread-bare-lumpy-faded-green-plaid-couch.
She was round and soft and wore scarves intricately wrapped around her; I imagined her picking out her scarf du jour, to match her moment.
Mostly Mary was intense and clear, two things that frightened the bejesus out of me in those days. In retrospect, I imagine it was my own hidden intensity and my own closeted clarity that frightened me.
There was Mary, round and scarved, speaking truth.
She was struggling intently with her relationship to her alcoholic husband, to leave, to not leave, to let him be, to withdraw her actions from the illusion of rescuing him. Watching her from afar, I learned so much about my own fears and most importantly, my own deeply embedded people-pleasing.
Mary’s favorite saying was:
Shit to compost.
That cracked me up.
I loved that.
I loved it then; I love it today.
I don’t know what it meant to me then; I imagine I will spend the rest of my days learning what it means to me now.
And in the now that waits up ahead.
It always has turned me around, this invitation to consider the moment’s events not from my playbook, not from the Script According to Aruni, but from that which is greater than me—
That which is happening!
I think of that powerful Haiku written by Mizuta Masahide, a 17th century Japanese poet and samurai:
now I can see the moon.”
It is all grace,
My work in this world
Is to accept what is,
To live through
My fearful preferences,
To allow the
I do not say this
To give us an out,
A doorway to
Beyond our feelings.
I speak it today
To give us
To walk through
We get what we get.
This is a week of weeks, a week we have been waiting for, each in our own way. A monumental election hovers on the horizon. If ever there was a time to keep our hearts connected to one another, if ever there was a time to tether ourselves to simple principles of living, here it is, this week of November 3, 2020.
Dear friends, here are a few inspiring tools I have been given this week. Each of these three is different, yet somehow, strangely similar. Each has brought me solace. I hope you can find some comfort here, too:
The Keep-Going Song by the Bengsons
From Pete Seeger’s 90th Birthday Concert (Clearwater Concert), Madison Square Garden, 5/3/09. Featuring: Pete Seeger, Emmylou Harris, Joan Baez, Toshi Reagon, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, Billy Bragg, Keller Williams, Ani DiFranco, Ruby Dee, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, New York City Labor Choir. 2010
Roshi Joan offers us a perspective of mature hope in the midst of life as it is, right here and right now. Link here
Dear, dear friends,
Be safe, be well.
With all blessings—
May the highest unfold,
May we remember
Of the outcome.
May we remember
We are not
- Wisdom Circle for Thursday, November 5, @ 2:00—all welcomed! Come together on our zoom call, to practice connection to self, to others, to all. It’s a simple and elegant form, please do come.